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Tennessee ‘sending’ millions of vaccine doses back due to low demand

The state has sent back over three million doses of vaccine to the federal government as the state department of health struggles to overcome vaccine hesitancy
Dr. Lisa Piercey
Dr. Lisa Piercey
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 9:08 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT / WTVF) - Tennessee Department of Health has sent back three million doses of vaccine to the federal government as the state struggles to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

The State Department of Health is reporting a lower demand for vaccines across the state. Vaccine hesitancy is high in rural areas and in some minority communities.

Due to the reluctance to receive the vaccine, the state is sending back vaccine doses to be used elsewhere where other states have a high demand for vaccines.

“It’s not like we get a big shipment and then we have to send them back to a warehouse,” said Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. “This is a paper transaction only. That’s reflective of what we see across the state. There is more hesitancy and we’re to sort of grinding to a halt. The people who want it have gotten it and they’re good to go.”

“Our supply exceeded our demand. And so, we realized we don’t need this weekly allocation. So, we do continue to order but it’s based on what the provider tells us,” Piercey said.

Dr. Piercey said the vaccine has also proven to be more resilient and the suppliers now say there’s a longer shelf life than 14 days as originally thought.

Despite hesitancy, there are still about 90,000 doses of vaccine given per week in the state. Dr. Piercey said it’s reassuring.

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